Some years ago a book club asked me to do a program for it. It was in the fall, and I wrote and read this story to it. I did and it has been used in a number of a times as a autumn story in the paper. Here it is for another time and I thank you for keep wanting to hear it.
This morning, standing on my porch looking across the ageless Smokies toward the distant Balsams, the magnificent mountain poem of David, Psalm 121, sang into my head and soul: “I will look up into the hills…”
For the first time in 40 years, I will be in western North Carolina when the color of autumn creeps down her mountains and a rainbow surrounds my world.
There is an excitement in the air as fall comes — not only among the tourists who are pouring into the region looking for this annual spectacle, but even among we who have witnessed this miracle of fall. We meet on the streets: “Have the colors reached Whiteside yet?” “It was 40 on Balsam this morning.” “My maple tree is changing.” Heavier shirts and jackets are out. Early morning habits can be seen as children push each other about at the bus stop. The fogs are dense and the bright waning sun and Carolina blue sky do not appear until noon.
But I won’t try to wax poetic when my friend, author John Paris, who cam home to the mountains from covering the capitals of the world, can write:
“Now comes autumn, the window-shutting time of the year in the hills, the magic season of leaf-color and wild pageantry.
“Now come the days of wine and deep frost and fire-lit nights.
“Autumn, the old master of the hills, is here again.
“Few folks paused to watch the precise moment of autumn’s coming. But before the day was over, equally few could doubt that a change had come to the hills.
“It was not so much of the visible thing at hand. It was more of a felling of something unseen, something unspoken.
“Like the birds and bees, many a farmer knew days ago that the turn of the season was at hand. They could feel it in the wind and hear it in the leaf-fall of the locust trees.
“And now with autumn here the music and magic of the season will set the gypsy blood astir.
“For it is the heart at harvest time, the earth at the fullness of time, the earth of plenty, the east of promises fulfilled.”
Joe Rhinehart can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.